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Planning keeps course safe during harsh winter

Thompson

– John Thompson, the golf course superintendent at Sycamore Hills Golf Club, holds out his cellphone to show a picture of another course in Indiana. He can’t – or won’t – say what course it is. But it looks like the worst case of acne you’ve ever seen, if that acne were on skin the color of the Incredible Hulk.

The picture was sent to Thompson by Sycamore Hills’ supplier of fungicide, a compelling sales pitch if you are charged with keeping one of the nation’s most beautiful courses looking beautiful.

When winter comes, a concern for golf courses is snow mold, and if you don’t tend to it, your photo could become the fodder for fungicide salespeople everywhere.

Thompson says there are two kinds of snow mold.

“That’s gray snow mold (on my phone), and that kills. Pink snow mold, you can spray and the turf will recover,” Thompson says.

According to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s Agricultural and Landscape Program website, snow molds are composed of Typhula blight and Microdochium patch, and that winters with prolonged snow cover and wet conditions can intensify the problem.

The key to avoiding snow mold, Thompson says, is to pre-emptively spray before the snow falls. If you wait for a problem to arise, and then treat it, you will be in trouble if you get gray mold and leave yourself more work if it’s the pink mold.

“We spray for it every year. There are some guys who don’t spray for it. I know of some guys down south who didn’t spray for it and they’re in trouble,” Thompson says.

Oddly, Thompson is pleased that this record-setting winter kept the grass under so many inches of snow.

“We spray for snow mold, the two types of snow mold,” he says. “A lot of guys (here) were worried, but everything I’ve seen so far this year looks fantastic. I was actually glad we had the winter because it kept the course insulated. It kept it protected from the deep freeze.”

jcohn@jg.net

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